The Board of Regents conducted their monthly meeting on Monday, October 19th via video conference. Vice Chancellor Andrew Brown began the meeting by commending school staff members across the state for their continued efforts with addressing the challenges associated with the reopening schools this Fall.
Interim Commissioner Betty Rosa recognized October as National Principals Month. She praised the work of principals across the state for the outstanding leadership they have provided during this difficult time. She went on to state that she is inspired by the courage and resilience they have demonstrated in working to provide a high-quality education to students.
Deputy Commissioner Kim Wilkins facilitated an update on the status of the reopening of schools. Senior staff members from various NYSED departments updated the Board on several key areas. Some of the topics covered included:
1.     Efforts to assist districts coordinate with the Department of Health to accurately maintain and update the COVID School Report Cards.
2.     Guidance on Maintaining Student Attendance – NYSED continues to emphasize the need to take and record daily attendance in the Student Information Repository System (SIRS). NYSED is also working on new codes to accurately reflect attendance within different instructional modalities.
3.     An update on the work NYSED is doing with the Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) to develop guidelines for addressing cases of potential educational neglect and child abuse in remote instructional settings. NYSED and OCFS will be hosting a joint webinar in the near future to provide guidance to districts.
4.     Clarification of the meaning of a “unit of Study” or the equivalent – The revised definition of a “unit of study” or the equivalent for grades 7-12 was reviewed.   Equivalent shall mean at least 180 minutes of instruction per week throughout the school year. Instruction can be delivered in a traditional person to person model or through alternative instructional experiences, but must represent standards-based learning under the direction and guidance of a certified teacher. Any alternative instructional experience must include meaningful feedback on student assignments and methods of tracking student engagement.
5.     A review of Career and Technical Education policies and regulations associated with the new round of Perkins Grant funding.
6.     A summary of data collected from the recently administered Digital Equity Survey. Due to the low response rate, NYSED will reissue the survey in October and also collect information through this year’s BEDS data.
7.     State Assessment Update – NYSED is continuing to move forward with the process for schools to order state exams for the 2020-21 school year.  It was emphasized, however, that if any state tests are administered this year, they must be given in person, in school buildings, and in a fair, equitable and safe manner. If NYSED does not feel this is possible, they will again apply for federal waivers, even though US Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, recently notified all 50 states that they should not expect to receive the waivers in 2021 that were granted 2020.
8.     Districts were reminded to review currently approved APPR plans to ensure that they are adapted to address remote and/or hybrid learning models.
9.     Information was shared regarding the 2020-21 Snow Day Pilot. It was emphasized that this is a one-year experiment that will be re-evaluated at the end of the year. Districts have the option of whether or not they wish to participate.
Below you will find a link to the presentation that includes more detailed information on the topics which were discussed.
The Board approved COVID-19 timeline extensions associated with the implementation of the Professional Standards for Educational Leaders (PSELs) for administrators.
1.      Due to interruptions caused by the pandemic, the deadline for higher education institutions to align administrator preparation program course work with the PSELs has been extended to September 1, 2022.
2.     A safety net for administrative candidates taking the School Building Leader Assessment was established. When the new assessment that is aligned with the PSELs becomes available, candidates retain the option of taking the exam that is currently being administered based on the Interstate School Leaders Licensure Consortium Standards (ISLLCs) or to take the new exam that is aligned with the PSELs. The safety net expires August 31, 2024.
3.     With regards to APPR evaluations, the deadline for districts to align administrator evaluation rubrics with the PSELs has been extended to 9/1/22.
The Board continued preliminary discussions on the best way to proceed in developing priorities for their 2021-2022 budget proposal. Some key areas discussed included:
1.     With the uncertainty of state and federal funding that will be available, should the Board be more conservative with requests?
2.     What will the best process to identify budget priorities?
3.     The need to prioritize allocation of funds aimed at reducing the digital access divide.
4.     The need to better support high needs districts who experienced the greatest impact from the state budget reduction and lack of federal assistance.
5.     The inequitable funding formula relating to the distribution of funds to non-public schools from public school budgets.
6.     The need to provide more flexibility to districts with how reimbursable funds are spent. As an example, many districts used school buses during the closures to deliver school meals, instructional materials and supplies, and provide wi-fi hotspots. Education law, however, currently does not allow districts to be reimbursed through transportation aid for these costs.
7.     Possible consolidation of school services between districts to reduce costs.
Further discussion of the 2021-22 budget priorities will be discussed again at the November 2020 meeting. Below is a link to the presentation that guided the discussion.